Tuesday 3 December 2013

How to use Google Maps to find a good route

Summary: Google Maps provides excellent cycling route coverage in many cities by enabling the Cycling Layer which adds green routes to mark (a) Off-road bike paths; (b) Roads with bike lanes; (c) Bicycle-friendly roads. Below are tips on how to make the most effective use of it.

1. Click on the Bicycling link/icon to turn on the cycling-friendly routes
- On the desktop browser, click the "Bicycling" link directly or when using "Directions" select the Cycling icon to turn the Cycling layer on. On the Google Maps smartphone app, click the bottom left icon to turn on the Cycling layer.

2. Ensure you know the cycling layer legend
- Display the cycling legend (Trails; Dedicated lanes; Bicycle-friendly roads) by clicking on the Layer dropdown at the top right of the map (it usually says Traffic). > See legend screenshot

3. Bicycling layer idiosyncracies to watch out for
- Note that for the thin solid green lines (dedicated lines), occasionally there are 2 lines for a road - one for each side. But more often there is only 1 green line. Many times there is still a lane on both sides but sometimes there is only a lane going in one direction. Use Streetview to check if unfamiliar with the road. If there is only 1 green line on a road it may be that there is only a bike trail or dedicated lane going in one direction but the direction won't be easy to tell without Streetview.

4. Compare Google Maps routes with other cycling route/map tools for your city
- Depending on the country/city you are in, there may be other location-specific route/map websites or mobile apps.
See: > Useful smartphone apps for utility cyclists